Helleborus

Common name: Hellebore

Hellebores are a long lived evergreen perennial that flower in early spring.

Plants do well on most soils, including heavy clays and chalk, but to ensure drainage is good, bulk up poor sandy soils with well-rotted organic materials such as garden compost or farmyard manure.



Helleborus niger is a white variety and the hybrid varieties come in various colours including bi-colours.

In spring, cut off all the leaves to ground level, leaving the flowers, and apply an annual mulch of well-rotted manure.

Exposing the flowers in this manner, will assist pollination, and thereby encourage good seed-setting.

Plants are harmful if eaten!

Cultivation

Week 13: Divide or move plants if weather and ground conditions allow, and re-plant immediately.

Established hellebores, resent root disturbance, so when moving them, try to keep the root ball as large as possible, otherwise you may suffer a loss of blooms next year.

When crowns are divided up to increase plant numbers, be prepared for little or no flowers for a year or two.

Seedlings that have grown around established plants can be forked up when a few inches tall and potted up or transplanted to a nursery bed.

These may take two to three years to reach flowering size.

Week 14: Collect seed when fresh and ripe, and sow immediately.

Germinate for 6 weeks at around 24°C (75°F), then transfer to a shaded coldframe, the cooler the better, for another 6 weeks.

Prick out seedlings when large enough to handle into boxes or 70mm (3”) pots, place in a cold frame or nursery bed, and grow on until planting out time.

Seed sown plants can take up to three years to flower.

Alternatively, allow them to self seed and once they have germinated and formed a strong root system transplant them to a location of your own choosing.

Week 26: Sow commercially purchased seed in trays of a 50-50 mix of compost and sharp sand and place in cold frame to germinate.

Germinate for 6 weeks at around 24°C (75°F), then transfer to a shaded coldframe, the cooler the better, for another 6 weeks.

Week 33: Prick out seedlings when large enough to handle into boxes or 70mm (3”) pots, place in a cold frame or nursery bed, and grow on until planting out time.

Seed sown plants can take up to three years to flower, and wont come true to the parent plant.

Week 40: Plant out 300mm (12") apart during October in a shaded or dappled shaded spot.

The root ball should be inserted about 25mm (1") below the surface of deep, well-drained, moist soil.

Although hellebores are tolerant of shady conditions, this by no means they are shade-loving plants.

Those that are subjected to winter sunshine often produce more / better blooms than those that are planted out in total shade.

Hellebore Diseases

Hellebores are generally trouble free but in recent years some of the hybrids have been affected by various fungal diseases and viruses, e.g. Fungal leaf spot, Cucumber mosaic virus, Helleborus net necrosis virus.

Fungal leaf spot:

As the name suggests is caused by a fungus that causes brown elliptical blotches to appear on both sides of the leaves.

Lesions can sometimes appear on the stems sometimes causing the leaves to shrivel and collapse.

The best cure is to remove all the affected parts, if the problem is only slight using a fungicide can sometimes help.

Cucumber mosaic virus:

Is transmitted by aphids and causes yellow to white line patterns to appear on the leaves.

As with all virus problems, destroy the infected plant/s immediately to reduce the risk of spread.

Hellebore Black Death:

This is a relatively new disease that only affects hybrid hellebores.

It is seen as the blackening, distortion and stunting of the leaves and stems, and sometimes the flowers.

Black streaking and mottling appears as a ring spot pattern or in lines between the leaf veins.

These are eventually passed down the leaf stalks to the main stem of the plant.

An aphid endemic to hellebores is suspected of passing on the virus.

There is no cure for virus infection other than digging up all infected plants as soon as symptoms are noticed, and destroying them immediately to reduce the risk of spread.





Top of the Page